NIGERIA’s mobile market, confirmed as the continent’s most robust and fastest growing, appears set to even break the banks as it is recording unprecedented investment inflow as the country enters its most active quarter with a flattering $2.130 billion capital inject in only two deals.
First, was the country’s leading mobile provider, MTN Communications Nigeria Ltd. with its $2b hybrid loan syndication involving a consortium of 14 Nigerian and South African banks, and other leading international financial institutions a fortnight ago. This deal was regarded as the single biggest institutional loan syndication involving a telecom firm in Africa.
And last week, Celtel Nigeria which has seen its fortune on the fast lane after 12 months of being launched into the international family made good its promise of challenging for frontrunner position in the Nigerian mobile market with a $130 million ‘turnkey’ contract to expand network transmission capacity, towards enhancing the country’s telecom facilities into a Next Generation technology. The new Celtel expansion project contract was signed with the Espoo, Finland based Nokia Siemens Networks.
According to the terms of the contract, Nokia Siemens Networks will execute the planned project for Celtel Nigeria by building 4000km of Nationwide Fibre Optic backbone infrastructure and supplying “best-in-class Microwave transmission equipment to bring mobile network operator — Celtel best-in-class IP technology.”
The contract represents a huge overall boost for Nigeria’s telecom capacity and development –– with Next Generation Services now poised to become a reality and available to the Nigerian population. “The deal is a result of the long term investment in Nigeria’s telecommunications market, which has seen the company maintain a consistent presence and commitment to Nigeria as one of its priority markets for over 50 years.”
“The deal is proof that, from the first year of its inception, Nokia Siemens Networks, (already no. 2 telecom infrastructure global player) has seen the value in committing to building Nigeria’s telecommunication infrastructure,” said Mr. Helmut Hochstetter, Country Director, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nigeria.
“For this, we have the customer insight; innovation; global reach and quality project execution as well as the efficient costing mindset to present appropriate solutions suited to operators and their customers’ needs in Nigeria. We look forward to working with Celtel to provide an excellent, Next Generation Services network for Nigeria,” Hochstetter adds.
Nokia Siemens Networks (which commenced operations in more than 150 countries with some 600 customers in April this year following a merger agreement) prides itself in delivering a complete, well-balanced product portfolio of mobile and fixed network infrastructure solutions that are addressing the growing demand for these services in Africa. As one of the top 40 companies investing in research and development in the world, Nokia Siemens Networks is ensuring appropriate and affordable technology infrastructure in the 44 countries in Africa and the Middle East that it operates in.
Mr. Bayo Ligali, CEO, Celtel Nigeria described the agreement as “a major milestone in our quest to build a robust infrastructure for the operation of our network so as to provide world class experience for our growing customer base in terms of coverage and quality”. He noted that the contract “also represents the fulfilment of a promise by our parent company, the Zain Group (formerly MTC Group) to invest massively in the Nigerian economy as a partner in the Federal Government’s effort to aggressively develop the economy and position it for the realisation of the 2020 Vision.”
Ligali described the contract, as a major accomplishment both in terms of expanding the network capacity and improving on Quality of Service, (QoS) and also the attraction of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the country.
The Celtel Nigeria chief executive expressed delight to have Nokia-Siemens Networks as strategic partners in this project given their track record of excellent performance and world-class products and services as well maintenance records.
“Definitely, this project when completed will put us well on our way to achieving the level of robustness and resilience that can guarantee the integrity of our network and provide a veritable platform for the provision of world-class services to our customers,” he stated.
Call center in the Niger Delta
With total investment hitting $3.8 billion since it took over the network in 2006, Celtel Nigeria also plans to build ‘soft Switches in capacity centres’ across the country connected to the microwave and fibre optic backbone to increase the resilience and robustness of its network.
It also plans to build a National Network Monitoring Centre in 2008 with “world class facilities to proactively monitor and intervene in network issues.” With such innovations in mind, it has already completed a new ‘Call 800-Seater Centre’ in Oghara, Delta State which is at the heart of the troubled oil Niger Delta region.
“This will significantly boost our capacity to attend to the enquiries of our customers. But I must say at this point that we are beginning to make some winnings, in terms of QoS judging by the volume of calls to our Call Centres. In the past six months, we have experienced consistent reduction in call traffic averaging almost 30 per cent,” Ligali said.